Businesses in difficulties are making the news again. The solution of cutting jobs is not likely to do anything to improve customer service, which means that we are looking at a reason for the next round of problems, and so on. A similar example is a railway chopping its branch lines. That means eliminating the feeders for its main lines, so less traffic on the main lines, paving the way for yet more cuts …
What needs to happen is that the managers, who are usually paid enough, need to pull a rabbit out of a hat. They need to come up with new ideas to put the business back on course, and use their imagination, but of course they never do!
My own system for producing rabbits is to run an internal competition between optical character recognition and other methods of doing things. OCR is the winner for scanning bank statements, but not for inputting a pile of invoices for a VAT return, where I use an enhanced autocomplete system instead. Both OCR and autocomplete work in the spirit of computers being able to see, so it is computer vision in a wider sense. As each new OCR device comes along, I ask myself if I can synthesise any of its apparent benefits by other technologies. Here we have a decent stimulus to the imagination.
David Porthouse & Co is a firm of accountants in Carlisle serving clients in Cumbria and the North West of England. We have a major interest in new technology and we are working on an optical number recognition/datepoint system for scanning bank statements with the intention of attacking the cost of accounts preparation. We also have a spreadsheet system which can be sent back and forth by e-mail.